Hike Difficulty: moderate
Hike Length: 6.95 mi roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 879 ft
Time: 3 hr 32 mins
# of titans found: 2 (we took too long and had to be back in civilization)
My Rating (out of 5): 5.0 – I’ve been dying to come down and see some redwood forests and after I did a little research last night, I knew exactly where to go. Jedediah Smith has some of the world’s largest redwoods, especially in terms of volume of wood. There are many trails open to the public. One of the most famous ones is Stout Grove, which is a loop trail that lets you see some amazingly large redwoods. Since there are so few trees in the understory, it has a very open feel to it. To me, it seemed kind of like going to a cathedral or somewhere with a lot of gravity to it, but with trees.
My real motive for coming to Jedediah was not really to see the Stout Grove trees, but rather a “secret” grove of trees called the Grove of Titans where some of the world’s top 15 biggest redwoods grow. I put secret in quotes because it is supposedly a protected area for which no one is supposed to know the location. The idea is that, with all the tourists coming to see these massive trees, they would destroy the ecosystem and possibly cause irreparable harm to the tree roots by stepping on them. So, they decided not to put up signs or anything. The thing is, people come anyway, especially when there’s a secret grove of massive trees involved.
I was ambivalent about becoming part of the problem, but I convinced myself that I would not be careless or damage any part of the forest. I got enough clues on the internet to figure out a general location. Even still, in all my searching in the forest, I think I damaged more plants stumbling around looking for unmarked trees than I would have had they created signs to mark the way. It was sad how obvious the trails were once I found the right area for the grove; there was a lot of foot traffic that created those paths. Since I got home, I read that over 3000 sq ft of plants have been trampled from 2012 to 2016 (which is shortly after the time that a website went live giving the location away — the very website that pretty much told me where to go).
In the spirit of trying to protect the titans, I am not going to give information here about how to find them. I do think that the rangers should put up signs so people do not get lost in the woods looking for these legendary trees. I’m not sure how to stop people from doing dumb things like ripping off pieces of bark, climbing the tree, or carving initials into the trunk, but I don’t think that keeping the trees a “secret” is necessarily the answer. It sure didn’t stop me from going. What scares me is that not everyone will be as respectful as I tried to be.